Former SecNav Ray Mabus’ Awkward Attack on Trump, Transgenders
Former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus published a commentary at Time.com railing against President Trump’s decision to ban transgenders from military service. The opinion piece was riddled with passionate but unsupported accusations — and, somewhat surprisingly, a seemingly ignorant perspective of the US military and the world, given his former tenure as the leader of the US Navy. Said Mabus [emphasis added]:
By barring transgender[s]…Donald Trump told thousands of serving trans patriots they are not worthy of defending the country they love…
Contrary to his appeals to emotion, “barring” from service says nothing about anyone’s “worth”. By making such an equivalence, it is Mabus — not Trump — who denigrates the millions of Americans who are unable to serve in the US military — because they are disqualified for one of the many reasons other than sexuality.
[Trump]…seriously weakened the U.S. military.
Mabus states this as if it is so obvious it requires no evidence. Truthfully, it should be easy to prove: After all, it’s only been a year since transgenders could serve openly, so the distinct difference between the strength of the US military in May 2016 versus its strength in July 2017 should be easy to demonstrate.
Mabus doesn’t even attempt to justify the statement — and no one can. There is no demonstrable way to prove that allowing people to openly say they feel like a man trapped in a woman’s body (or vice versa) suddenly strengthened the US military, nor any way to prove that banning them from service weakens the military. Mabus — who was Secretary of the Navy mere months ago — made an unqualified statement on military readiness that is nothing more than meaningless pablum.
Besides, how can something that is supposed to be so miniscule also be so traumatic? Are there really so few military transgenders that accepting their open service is negligible, as activists would claim, or are there so many that the world will end if they are not allowed to serve? It can’t be both, yet that is what activists are claiming.
Further [emphasis added]:
[Trump] sent the message that ability doesn’t count and that prejudice wins…he thumbed his nose at something that is basic to who we are as Americans: Anyone who wants to serve and is able to serve should be allowed to serve.
Every military — not just the US military — long ago made the decision that “ability” is not the only requirement in being allowed to serve. By most accounts, William Calley appears to have been an “able” Soldier. Nidal Malik Hasan was “willing and able” to serve. That wasn’t enough — it isn’t enough — and Mabus knows it.
While gleefully deriding Trump for banning “willing and able” Americans, Mabus seems to forget he presided over a US Navy that prevented “willing and able” Americans from joining. He oversaw the discharge of men and women who were “able to serve”. As SecNav he was willing to enforce standards — at least, when and where he wanted to. Pretending that “all that matters is the ability to shoot straight” briefs well, but it can have tragic and disastrous consequences.
Saying “anyone who wants to and is able” should be allowed to serve isn’t true, it doesn’t work — and it has never been military policy.
Further, Mabus appears to be showing a hint of hypocrisy. It was he who appeared to denigrate his own subordinates when he equated them with racists and bigots — because of their moral or religious beliefs. Apparently, the “anyone” who is “willing and able” doesn’t include people who disagree with “progressive” sexual agendas.
Mabus does get one thing right:
The American principle has always been about what you can do, not who you are.
There’s truth in that. Consistent with recent US military issues, for example:
- If you can’t figure out which hand is your left and which is your right;
- If you can’t tell what gender you are;
- If you have sex with someone other than your spouse;
- If you can’t demonstrate the self-control to follow the law and military policies;
then it’s not about “who you are”. It’s about your inability to meet the minimum standards for the people of the United States to entrust you with the undesirable but necessary task of waging violence upon others in their defense. The US military has long recognized that just because you are able to shoot a gun, drive a tank/boat, or fly a plane, does not mean you should. Mabus’ implication otherwise is disingenuous.
Gender confusion or gender dysphoria has been a disqualifying factor from military service for decades. Despite the change in policy last year, the US military has never allowed the enlistment of openly transgender individuals. That means anyone who is now in the military who is transgender previously served in violation of military policies.
To be fair, the whiplash of military policies over the past year isn’t their fault — nor is it Donald Trump’s. Remember, it was President Obama’s decision to open the military to transgenders — and he did so unilaterally. It was President Trump’s decision to reverse him — and he did so unilaterally.
Painful? Tragic? Hurtful? Unfair? Almost certainly, to some. That a decision may be difficult makes it no less necessary, permissible, or right. That doesn’t mean it should be handled harshly — but it also doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be handled.
Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. But every US troop learns in training to seek the strength to do the harder right, rather than the easier wrong.
And former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is wrong.
Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.